27 Lead Generation Ideas for the B2B MarketerPosted on 3rd July 2012 by Sean McColgan -
No leads, no sales.
No sales, no business.
Lead generation is the lifeblood of every B2B business. If you are a B2B Marketer - It’s your top priority, converting them your greatest challenge.
In this post we are going to explore 27 lead generation ideas, with an actionable conversion tip for each that you can implement today.
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- 3 Months+
The rise in spend in content marketing is fueled by B2B companies shifting from outbound to inbound lead generation with remarkable content being at the heart of their inbound strategy.
With the proven effectiveness of inbound marketing and the reduced cost benefits (inbound leads cost 61% less), traditional B2B PR teams are transforming into content development / social marketing power houses. Optimising for social, search and discovery.
Where to start? Start by crafting high quality content based around your prospects needs / day- to-day challenges and offering it for free on your company blog. Set your business / brand as the go-to resource in the market place. When your prospect is looking for a solution that you offer, your brand is front-of-mind.
Conversion Tip: Leave the hard sell for the infomercials. If you are truly great - your customers, community will provide the social proof how good your product is. Instead include calls to action around the content you share - think Billboards, don't pave the highways.
Content Marketing Resources:
- Content Marketing Institute - A daily source of how-to insight for content marketing education, events and consulting.
- Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition - This book is so good you'll want to hide it from your competition.
Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC)
Ok nothing groundbreaking here - PPC has been around for more than 10 years. Yet according to the latest Marketing Sherpa Search Marketing Benchmark Report - 63% of B2B Marketers see increasing traffic to their company websites via PPC as main solution to lead and ROI challenges through 2012.
Start out by researching your markets keywords. With this data in hand, setup highly targeted Ad campaigns. Create compelling ad copy (see resource link below), and develop killer landing pages. Optimise to convert. Rinse and Repeat!
Conversion Tip: Use modified broad match to increase ad relevance and conversion rates.
Content Marketing Resources:
Invest in Edutainment
Edutainment - the art of educating while being entertaining. It’s a fine art and here’s a great real world example:
Piccsy is an image aggregator that transformed their investors pitch deck into an interactive parallax landing page. It's beautiful, engaging, and the results, well they speak for themselves: 50,000 pageviews, plenty of hard to attain press coverage and 15 inbound investor requests.
Conversion Tip: Conversion Tip: Help your prospects visualise how successful they can become investing, using, or subscribing to your product. Provide the vision appealing to the emotional impulses of your prospects - to make the image their own.
Optimise for Search (SEO)
There are approximately 5.2 billion web searches performed every day (comscore). How many of those searches are relevant to your business? (You can get approximate search data using Google's keyword tool).
Being in front of your target market when they are looking for information relevant to your business is the first step in the conversion funnel. Win the click, and the chance to educate your prospect on your value proposition and convert them to a customer.
Conversion Tip: Boost click through rates on your search rankings with detailed / persuasive copy in the Meta Description.
Turn Website Visitors into Business Leads
Remember the line "think Billboards, don't pave the highways?" when content marketing - here's a billboard mixed with valuable how-to information :)
Jumplead (60 second singnup) turns your website traffic into business leads in real time by analysing your visitor traffic and connecting that data to real world business information (contact information and company background information).
To get started simply install a script on your website, next watch the leads appear in real-time in the jumplead dashboard, you can now connect with them via live chat, or start developing a relationship - follow them, say hello.
Conversion Tip: Identify the most engaged visitors on the site (page visits / time on site), and how they discovered your site (keywords used). Export this data and pull up each company lead on Linkedin, start filtering the job roles (Know your customer: roles/responsibilities) and outreaching with content specifically for them.
Retarget with Adroll
Q. Ok, so your website visitor left without converting - how can you get a second chance of converting the prospect to a qualified lead?
A. Retargeting with Adroll.
Adroll is a retargeting platform that enables you to keep track of people who visit your site and serve display Ads on other sites they visit online. If you know the visitor was checking out the pricing of your SAAS but did not convert - you can remarket them post site with Ad creatives offering a risk free trial offer, or even a discount code for first month subscription to incentivise them to return and covert.
How Adroll works
Market with Webinars
The B2B sales process can be long and complex. With that a personalised sales approach is most definitely required (not a generic message shouted at anyone who will listen). Webinars are a great way to present your business solution in a personalised way.
One of your main challenges when hosting webinars will be getting your prospect to show up. Email is your friend here - send a registration confirmation, follow up reminder, and an an email one hour before.
Conversion Tip: Identify your prospects pain points and challenges before the webinar and configure your business solution to match (Radian6 do this well!)
Target Prospects with Linkedin Ads
With over 160 million registered users onboard - Linkedin Ads platform enables you to reach millions of active business professionals with rich display ads and highly-targeted text ads.
Ad Targeting enables you filter Linkedin members by location, company, job title, group, gender, and age.
Conversion Tip: You are not going to make the sale on the click. Funnel prospects to webinars, reports where you address their pain points - get the email, provide value upfront - on the webinar you can lead to conversion.
Share Insightful Slideshare Presentations
That awesome powerpoint presentation you sent to your prospect is still unopened in their inbox. What to do?
Slideshare Case Study on reaching out to the B2B Audience:
Conversion Tip: Gotta go Pro - capture sales leads with a nifty form at the end of your presentation.
Engage in Q&A Marketing on Quora, Linkedin and Focus
The latest Edelman Trust Barometer report highlights a staggering 75% jump in trust (in just one year) people have of using social media sites as a source of information about a company.
You can capitalize on this rising trend by being present on Social Q&A sites such as Quora, Linkedin and Focus - providing thought leadership in topics you want your company to "own".
Where to start? For Quora sign up if not already, fill out your profile, and search and subscribe to topics relevant to your business.
If you run a social media analytics company - you’d probably want to be following these topics:
- Social media analytics (Followed by 337 People)
- Social information filtering (Followed by 356 People)
- Social media (Followed by 47948 People)
- Social networks (Followed by 47948 People)
Between the above core topics to your business there are over a 1000 open questions. Choose a couple of active questions where you can add value and start developing trust, visibility and thought leadership.
In Forrester's B2B Marketing Trends 2012 report they found that 39% of business decision makers visit the big three social networks for business purposes, but a massive 64% read other online forums and discussion groups. You need to identify where your audience is and be there.
Conversion Tip: Don't just write 1-2 sentence responses and drop a link to your blog. If you want your answer to be voted to the top and gain wider exposure and read by more people - make it comprehensive (go all out) and leave a link at the bottom if you have a resource on your blog that would make for good further reading. Check out an example answer on Quora on how to hit a homerun when Q&A Marketing.
Q&A Marketing Resources:
Track and Answer Questions on Twitter using Inboxq
Find people asking questions about things you know. Following on from Q&A Marketing opportunities on Linkedin, Quora, Focus and other industry related sites. Twitter is a great place to add value, help prospects out, build up a community and ultimately bring in those leads.
Gary Vaynerchuk built his Wine business empire by producing awesome content, sharing it, and answering thousands of questions on Twitter related to his business. Watch this video on his number one tip on engaging on Twitter.
To make this process easy - you can track questions in real-time by installing inboxq (chrome extension) Start off brainstorming keywords related to your business and setup tracking in inboxq - every time a question is asked based on the keywords you set -you’ll get a real time alert. Answer it and maybe direct them to a resource you have built around this question. This is a great way to provide value upfront, develop trust, brand advocates and a lot of love.
Conversion Tip: Be human! Don’t let your tweets be mistaken for a Twitter Bots. Use the person's name in your response and if you are sending them to a resource on your blog - make sure it answers their question and follow up.
Research, Design and Share Engaging Infographics
Source: AE - Mobile Coupons Infographic
According to Eric Schmidt "Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003".
As a result of the phenomenal rise in information creation, our attention is being constantly divided and shifted (now across multiple screens). We no longer read articles we skim them. In response to the way we now snack on content - visual storytelling has become big business online.
Visual storytelling with infographics is a great way to share stories that are easily and quickly understood (snackable), help your business gain exposure, and win in today's attention economy.
What does winning with infographics look like?
- Less is More. Extracting a story from complex data and presenting it in a way your audience can easily understand and gain insightful takeaways. (thought leadership)
- Generating conversations / awareness around your brand's content (trust)
- Attracting key social sharing signals and viral spread of your content (exposure)
- Attracting hard to attain inbound links from industry blogs, media sites to help boost search ranking for targeted keywords (more prospects)
- Influx of web visitors, including the high levels in buying organizations.
Conversion Tip: To go truly viral with your infographics make sure the subject matter is timely. Journalists and bloggers are much more inclined to cover your infographic if the topic is hot. At the same time, you want to make sure the content is closely connected to your brand and not viral for the sake of being viral. It's a balancing act.
Write and Share Killer "How To" Guides
Let's be honest - the World doesn't really care about you...the World only cares about you when you solve their problems, entertain them, or provide useful information. Take Google as a real world example.
- 7,450,000 search results for "I love Google" (Google solves people's problems)
- Every Google Doodle they create generates tons of press coverage (Google entertain millions of users daily)
- They generated revenues of $10.65 billion in the first quarter of 2012 (Google's business model is based on connecting users with useful information)
How can you emulate Google and make your market, customers, prospects really care about you?
Help them! Create comprehensive "how to" guides that solve pressing problems they are experiencing. Share this content on your blog, with your industry and on your social channels. Watch inbound traffic and leads steadily grow as a result.
Conversion Tip: Get out the building and discover your prospects pain points and how you can really help your customers. Create content based around those conversations.
- How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing - Killer "How To" Book on removing all barriers to writing consistently.
- 750words.com Cool web app to stay motivated to write and keep track of your output.
Identify And Engage Brand Advocates
Turn your communities into customers by identifying and engaging brand advocates across the social web.
What exactly is a brand advocate?
A brand advocate is a person who recommends your products or service with their own audience. From sharing a great experience they had with your brand, educating other consumers about your product, or simply sharing your websites content.
How can brand advocates help?
As the power continually shifts from Mad Men style advertising to the millions of networked trust agents influencing and commanding micro communities of their own - running a brand advocacy programme that identifies and energizes advocates can be used as a strategic asset to generate inbound leads, build trust around your product and boost awareness of your product offering.
Check out the research conducted by Zuberance on the power of brand advocacy:
- 30% of Brand Advocates recommend once a week or more
- Brand Advocates have Social Networks that are larger than average (300-600)
- Brand Advocates recommend consumer (67%) and business (31%) products
- Brand Advocate recommendations prompt the recipient to consider (61%) and buy (22%)
Social CRM platforms such as Nimble, Zuberance and Lithium are making it easier to identify and engage your advocates across the social web. Note - building brand advocacy doesn't start and end with the tools though - it’s all about being authentic, honest and transparent with your audience (TAGFEE works).
Conversion Tip: Empower your biggest brand advocates with exclusive access to discounts, content, new product updates - help them share your latest and greatest.
- 9 Reasons Your Company Should Use Brand Advocates - If you need any more reasons to invest in brand advocacy?
- A new breed of brand advocates: Social networking redefines consumer engagement Great study by Deloitte with an awesome concluding question: how will you influence the influencers?
Show up at the Right Moment, In Front of the Right Person with the Right Message
Savvy B2B Marketers are all over mobile, winning what Google calls "The Zero Moment of Truth". Through mobile PPC advertising, serving mobile optimised content, and offering apps with interactive storytelling experiences - they are present and providing value, at the key moment C-level executives are making choices related to their business.
In a recent study conducted by Compete and Google - 21% of US B2B C-level executives reported using a tablet to research business purchases, compared to 12% of those outside the C-suite.
What can you do to be in front of the key decision makers using mobile devices?
- Setup Mobile PPC Ad Campaigns and win the click, first position matters even more in mobile with screen real estate at a minimum. A drop from first to fourth position on smart phones can mean a CTR drop off of more than 90% (Google mobile internal data, 2011)
- Make sure your site is optimised for Mobile. It may look good, but is it functional?
- Serve content based on device. By Identifying what device your prospect is using you can serve specifically optimised content for it.
Conversion Tip: Optimise your site for speed. 74% of mobile users wait up to 5 seconds - if your landing page hasn’t loaded by then, they are gone.
Mobile Marketing Resources:
- The Zero Moment of Truth - An eBook by Google on winning in the mobile era.
- How to Optimize Your Mobile Site for Search Engines by Neil Patel
Deliver a Weekly Newsletter Packed with Value
Newsletters are a great medium for engaging and nurturing prospects on an ongoing basis. As outbound sales calls and unsolicited emails (interruption marketing) lose their edge - delivering remarkable educational content that helps your prospects (people who opted-in for your ebooks, webinars etc) is a great way to transform your email channel into a revenue engine for your business.
The art of email starts with the subject line. Without a great headline - it’s not going to be opened. Period. Make it enticing, hook your recipient in - pack the email with value link the content to your blog / landing pages - educate to lead.
Conversion Tip: Use CTR data on newsletter campaigns to refine content / subject titles / your lead generation strategy. Segment subscribers based on engagement and purchase intent. Send the qualified leads to sales when ready (not raw).
- Tinyletter - Setup a Company Newsletter in Minutes (Seriously!)
- 6 Tactics to Create More 'Must-Read' B2B Newsletters
Guest Post on Industry Blogs
Guest posting on industry blogs is a great way to get your message in front of a bigger audience and generate relevant inbound traffic, links, and ultimately more leads.
When looking for guest posting opportunities - there are a hundred and one unique ways to identify blog owners you should be reaching out to. One simple tactic is to hit up Google Trends, enter an industry site you regularly visit for industry news and see what other sites people visit. Analyse the related sites content, brainstorm content ideas that would make for a good fit for their audience, pitch your awesome content, and finally write the mother of all blog posts. Once live, make sure to engage and respond to any comments made.
Examples of Great Guest Blog Posts:
- The Noob Guide to Online Marketing (With Giant INFOGRAPHIC) by Oli Garnder
- How To Get 100,000 Facebook Likes For Your Blog Fan Page - by James Altucher
Conversion Tip: Make sure you add social, company links to your bio. Make it easy for readers to connect with you and follow up.
Guest Posting Resources:
Compile Industry Research and Give it Away
"This is the greatest advertising opportunity since the invention of cereal. We have six identical companies making six identical products. We can say anything we want" - Don Draper
Own the Industry not the product. Compiling industry research for your market and sharing it is a great way to develop thought leadership, and position your brand. At the same time - help your prospects make better informed decisions and gain a deeper understanding of the current state of the market.
Leading the conversation and becoming the go-to resource will help generate conversations, social shares, inbound links and a continual flow of leads.
Here’s a great example of this tactic in action with social signal data:
The Social Media Examiner: The 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report
- Tweets: 3330
- Facebook Shares: 743
- Facebook Likes: 606
- Facebook Comments: 102
- Google+ Shares: 500
- Referring Domains: 330
- External Backlinks: 1564
- Blog Post Comments: 57
You can see the power of compiling industry research and sharing it. That’s a lot of visibility for one report - and an amazing influx of prospects.
Conversion Tip: Share select highlights of the report and offer the full report for free in exchange for contacts details.
Industry Research Resources:
- How to Systematically Build a Mountain of Links - ProBlogger (How to use Reports as Linkable Assets and more great examples)
- True Social Metrics: Awesome social app to track social media amplification, applause and economic value of the conversations you generate around your content (If you are going to create high level content - you are going to need hard data to backup the investment in this kind of content (and win more budget!).
Optimise all that Awesome Inbound Traffic with Optimizely
So you are taking massive action and crushing it with all these cool inbound marketing tactics - sharing infographics, hosting webinars, writing the most valuable “how to” information on your blog and sharing it with your market. As a result your search rankings are up, social shares are through the roof, and your websites traffic is on fire. However when it comes to report the number of leads generated - there is no change!
Before the client fires you - head on over to Optimizely and start setting up A/B tests based around the business / websites objectives (converting prospects to leads). No coding experience required - you can be up and running in minutes, testing changes in site wide navigation, the placement of your call to action buttons, videos, images used on key landing pages etc
Watch this walkthrough video by the Optimzely team on how they increased funding donations for Obama’s historic social media election campaign:
Conversion Tip: If uncertainty exists in your prospects next actions (when doesn’t it?) make sure to highlight all social sharing signals (Facebook likes, Google+ shares etc), number of email subscribers subscribed etc. People often look to the actions of others to guide them. Highlighting these social signals will help create trust.
Use Artificial Intelligence for Decision Optimisation
The machines are alive! A/B testing your landing pages is great but what about taking it to the next level - using A.I to improve the effectiveness of your site? Check out Conductrics and hook up their API to start combining ideas from web analytics, artificial intelligence, and economics to generate more leads on your site.
How A.I can generate more leads on your site:
Conversion Tip: Let the Machines do the work.
Reach and Engage Business Audiences with Bizo
Bizo is a B2B ad network that reaches 80 percent of the business audience in the United States, whether they’re making purchase decisions in the office or at home.
The platform is powered by targetable bizographic data on over 100 million business professionals, as well as a business audience network comprised of 1,800+ publishers (Forbes, The Financial Times, GigaOm, MSNBC - to name a few).
How it works: Bizo serves contextual display Ads around content related to your business on their partner sites. Through their targeting capabilities they can serve these Ads to specific groups you specify based on a business person’s industry, job function, company size, and seniority.
Conversion Tip: Before running a campaign with Bizo - you can gain actionable audience insights by adding their free analytics code to your website. Within 24 hours, you'll know the bizographic make-up of your site visitors, and be able to refine marketing campaigns around this data.
- The Fuel Powering Bizo's Business Audience Targeting Platform - Whitepaper outlining what "bizographics" are, and where Bizo get their data from.
- Case Studies on how businesses and agencies generated qualified leads using Bizo
Make Search Results Personal with Google Authorship
Business is personal. People want to know who they are doing business with. With the new authorship tag - you have is a great way to show them, and add a human touch to your search listings. Not to mention increase CTR and deliver more prospects to your site.
How do you add it?
You need a Google+ profile with a good, recognizable headshot set as your profile picture. Next, you need to verify authorship of your content by associating it with your domain.
- Create a link to your Google+ profile from your web page (author page, about page works):
- <a href="[profile_url]?rel=author">Google</a>
- Replace [profile_url] with the your Google+ profile URL, like this:
- <a href="https://plus.google.com/109412257237874861202? rel=author">Google</a>
- Your link must contain the ?rel=author parameter. If it's missing, Google won't be able to associate your content with your Google+ profile.
- Add a reciprocal link back from your profile to the site(s) you just updated.
- Edit the Contributor To section.
- In the dialog that appears, click Add custom link, and then enter the website URL.
- If you want, click the drop-down list to specify who can see the link.
- Click Save.
Conversion Tip: Don’t use a picture of you on a night out on the town, slightly drunk.
Google Authorship Resources:
- How to implement Rel="publisher" and Musings on the Authorship Markup Landscape - by AudienceWise
- Authorship Rich Snippet Testing Tool - Once you have done the above - test what author data Google can extract from your page.
Develop an Affiliate / Referral Backend
You have two choices when building an affiliate channel - inhouse or run with an affiliate network (such as affiliate window). There are pro’s and cons to both approaches. Inhouse you are in complete control of the affiliate relationship compared to running with a network - they own the relationship. Implementing the tracking technology can be expensive / complex if going the inhouse route. A network has it all built and a world class development team at hand iterating on it daily.
The key advantage of adding an affiliate component to your business is being able to scale your marketing department. Affiliate Marketers are paid on performance when promoting your product (usually cost per lead CPL).
Conversion Tip: You don't want your affiliates tweeting out hundreds of links an hour! Be sure to put marketing restrictions into your affiliate agreement. If you think your PPC and media buying campaigns can be improved - restrict your affiliates to those channels. Monitor closely who delivers the best quality leads and seek feedback from them.
Bid on your Prospects Name on Adwords
If you have a list of targeted leads with both name and surname (Linkedin is a great platform for generating these lists) - craft a personalised Ad campaign bidding on their name (exact match).
Most people Google themselves now for keeping tabs on their reputation online. Take advantage of this and build out a small ad campaign sending them to a personalised landing page.
Say you are in the business of online reputation management - a targeted ad creative like below is going to have a high CTR.
Conversion Tip: For even more personalisation and increased conversion - You can pre- populate your landing page to feature your prospects name both in the copy and in the lead gen form.
Creative PPC Resources:
Market with Awesome Explanation Videos
How long have you got to capture attention? 10 seconds according to Jakob Nielsen. Without a clear value proposition presented in these crucial seconds - your web visitor is hovering over the back button - ready to eject (where are your hands on the keyboard when reading this?).
If you can convince users to stay on your page for half a minute, there’s a fair chance that they’ll stay much longer - often 2 minutes or more.
We know attention equals sales. How to win it? Video. Awesome explantation videos are a great way to engage and demonstrate your value proposition within the crucial 0-30 second time frame of opportunity.
Check out this video by Ephipheo Studios for Doubleclick Search for a great working example:
Conversion Tip: Focus the video content on addressing the issues your prospects are facing. Make sure there is a call to action around the video (email submit, trial subscription signup).
Video Marketing Resources:
Analyse, Optimise, Deliver
Do you know how many leads were generated by your inbound / outbound marketing channels this week? What keyphrases, landing pages, referral sites - generated leads / revenue? These are questions you need answers to before you ramp up any lead generation activities.
By having a clear understanding of what’s working - we can better allocate spend / resources on those activities and scale.
First step is to setup goal tracking in Google Analytics to monitor lead gen conversions (form submits, white papers downloaded, newsletter sign ups, registration for webinars etc). Once setup, we can analyse everything from channel conversions to keyword paths, and gain an understanding of what requires optimising.
More traffic isn't always the answer - analyse, and optimise your current website lead generation funnels to start delivering more leads.
Conversion Tip: Always be testing.
There you go - 27 lead generation ideas you can use to jump-start your business and generate more sales. If you enjoyed this post - feel free to help spread it, share it. Most importantly we hope you find it insightful and actionable.
Do you have a unique lead generation idea not listed above? We would love to hear it, let us know in the comments below.